The Benefits of Attending Community College

Two-year schools can be a launching pad

(Image: File)

This post was written by Chelsea L. Dixon, a contributor to BE Smart. For more about the author, see her bio at the end of the post.

When high school students think about which college or university to attend, community college is often not even considered. Some feel that a community college is an extension of high school and not “real” college. Unfortunately, this type of thinking causes a lot of students to miss out on what can be a great opportunity to pursue postsecondary education.

Not only can you earn an associate degree or certificate of completion within two years, but listed below are five additional benefits to consider.

COST

There are definitely financial advantages associated with attending a community college. Two-year colleges cost significantly less than four-year schools. In its “Trends in College Pricing 2014 Report” (see below), the College Board reported that for the 2014–15 school year, the average published cost of one year of in-state tuition and fees at a public four-year institution was $9,139. With room and board ($9,804), the total cost jumped to $18,943. The out-of state student’s cost was nearly 2.5 times that amount at $32,762. For students at private, four-year schools, the cost was even steeper: $31,231 in tuition and fees per year alone. When room and board were factored in for another $11,188, a private, four-year education cost a student $42,419 per year.

Comparing those figures to a public community college, tuition and fees would be, on average, $3,347 for the year. Including room and board, the total annual cost would be $11,052, considerably less than $18,943, $32,762, and $42,419, respectively. Since most community colleges don’t provide room and board, that may represent another area of savings.

2014 – 2015 School Year Public, Two-year In-District Public, Four-Year In-State Public, Four-Year Out-of-State Private, Four-Year Non-Profit
Tuition and Fees $3,347 $9,139 $22,958 $31,231
Room and Board $7,705 $9,804 $9,804 $11,188
Total Tuition, Fees, Room and Board $11,052 $18,943 $32,762 $42,419

Source: College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges

No matter how you look at it, unless you receive a full scholarship, attending a four-year college or university (in-state, out-of-state, public, or private) will cost you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars more than attending a community college.

SMALLER CLASS SIZES

On average, class sizes tend to be smaller at community colleges than they are at four-year institutions. At major colleges and universities, it’s not uncommon for freshmen and sophomores to have some classes in lecture halls with hundreds of other students.

Smaller class sizes may not only make it easier for you to engage in classroom discussions and ask questions, but also to get to know your classmates and professors. If you have questions about a specific class, your professor will probably be more accessible than if you attended a larger four-year college or university.

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